Every job has its frustrations. Bad bosses, frantic projects, stressful meetings and deadlines. There are times when every job really just sucks balls and you can’t wait for the day to be over.
Teaching, I think, presents a unique set of frustrations that most people would not understand unless, of course, they are a teacher themselves. I know I’m going to get some flack for this, but if you aren’t a teacher, you have no clue about the amount of frustrations I deal with on a day to day basis. And high school teachers have a completely different set of frustrations from middle and elementary school teachers.
I deal with girl drama, boy drama, “I can’t sit next to so-and-so because of x, y, and z” drama. I deal with “put away your cell phone” and “give me your cell phone” and “don’t give me attitude for telling you to get off your cell phone in the middle of class” frustrations.
It’s not the kids. Really, it’s not. I actually really like all of my students. Even the ones who give me six kinds of headaches in 90 minutes on Monday. Because on Tuesday, they participate and do their work and are awesome. Teenagers are sometimes frustrating, but they are also awesome to watch because they are starting to realize that the world is so much bigger than the little space that they occupy. They start to question authority (just not mine, please 😉 ) and question life and ask the big questions of life the universe and everything (42). I get more joy out of conversing with my students than I get frustrations.
My frustration comes from the other side of teaching. The “why are you teaching? You don’t get paid that much.” The “teachers aren’t doing that great of a job.” The “why are you complaining, you get three months off in the summer.” It’s two actually and I don’t take any days off during the year unless I am bed-ridden. Or if I’m so frustrated with the system that I will tear someone’s head off today.
Teachers are in a unique position where their success isn’t based on how well they do. It’s based on how well their students do. If the student fails, the teacher was a bad teacher.
And when you have students move into your class three quarters of the way through the semester and they haven’t even gotten to the things you’re doing in your class yet because of whatever reason, there is little a teacher can do about that. Or the teacher has a class of 40+ students and can’t get to all of them. But the teacher tries. Asks every kid if they need help and the kids always say no, then fail the test. So the kid fails, and somehow it’s the teacher’s fault. Even though that teacher is there every day for tutoring and offers help and gives the kid a book, but the kid never comes in for tutoring and never asks for help. If the kid doesn’t care, it’s still the teacher’s fault.
No wonder most new teachers quit after three years.
The frustration mounts until some gives. It builds and festers inside, waiting to explode. And when it does, the teacher usually walks away from the profession.
I have hope that next year will be better. This was just a stressful year for me. Too many large classes which means less activities (too many bodies to move around), less labs (chemistry is dangerous), less opportunities to really inspire kids to like science. Too many large classes means more reading, more boring worksheets, and more grading for myself (these 55 hour work weeks have to stop). Too many students who don’t care and don’t do the work and don’t try.
Next year will be better. I’ll come back after a relaxing summer, because, yes I do get summers off (I also don’t get paid for that time off) and be refreshed. I’ll be teaching a new class that I’m super excited about. I’ll have more honors kids and more chemistry sections because, apparently, they like my class. And I’ll be less frustrated.
Next year will be better. Keep saying it like a mantra until the end of the year.
Next year will be better.